Hamilton: An American Musical is a sung- and rapped-through musical about the life of American Founding Father Alexander Hamilton, with music, lyrics and book by Lin-Manuel Miranda, inspired by the 2004 biography Alexander Hamilton by author and historian Ron Chernow. Incorporating hip hop, R&B, pop, soul, traditional-style show tunes, and color-conscious casting of non-white actors as the Founding Fathers and other historical figures, the musical achieved both critical acclaim and box office success.
|An American Musical|
Broadway promotional poster
by Ron Chernow
|Premiere||January 20, 2015: The Public Theater, New York City|
|Productions||2013 Vassar College|
2017 First U.S. Tour
2017 West End
2018 Second U.S. Tour
2019 Third U.S. Tour
2019 Puerto Rico
The musical made its Off-Broadway debut at The Public Theater in February 2015, where its engagement was sold out. The show transferred to Broadway in August 2015 at the Richard Rodgers Theatre. On Broadway, it received enthusiastic critical reception and unprecedented advance box office sales. In 2016, Hamilton received a record-setting 16 Tony nominations, winning 11, including Best Musical, and was also the recipient of the 2016 Grammy Award for Best Musical Theater Album and the 2016 Pulitzer Prize for Drama. The prior Off-Broadway production of Hamilton won the 2015 Drama Desk Award for Outstanding Musical as well as seven other Drama Desk Awards out of 14 total nominated categories.
The Chicago production of Hamilton began preview performances at the CIBC Theatre in September 2016 and officially opened the following month. The West End production of Hamilton opened at the Victoria Palace Theatre in London in December 2017, winning seven Olivier Awards in 2018, including Best New Musical. The first U.S. national tour of the show began performances in March 2017. A second U.S. tour opened in February 2018. Hamilton's third U.S. tour began with a special 3 week engagement beginning January 11, 2019 in Puerto Rico, with Miranda returning to the show for the special engagement.
The play has two acts, telling Hamilton's story through major events. It tells Hamilton's life from beginning to end along with various other characters such as Lafayette, Aaron Burr, and former president Thomas Jefferson.
The musical begins with the company summarizing Alexander Hamilton's early life as an orphan on the island of Nevis ("Alexander Hamilton"). After arriving in New York in 1776, Hamilton meets Aaron Burr, John Laurens, Marquis de Lafayette, and Hercules Mulligan ("Aaron Burr, Sir"), and impresses them with his rhetorical skills ("My Shot"). They affirm their revolutionary goals to each other ("The Story of Tonight"). ("The Schuyler Sisters"), Angelica, Eliza, and Peggy, are then introduced. King George then insists on his authority ("You'll Be Back"). During the New York and New Jersey campaign Hamilton accepts a position as George Washington's aide-de-camp ("Right Hand Man") instead of field command.
Hamilton marries Eliza Schuyler ("Helpless") as her sister Angelica suppresses her feelings for the sake of their happiness ("Satisfied"). Burr reflects on Hamilton's swift rise while considering his own career and more cautious style ("Wait For It").
John Laurens duels General Charles Lee after Lee attacks Washington's character, with Hamilton and Burr as their seconds ("Stay Alive"). Laurens injures Lee and Lee yields ("Ten Duel Commandments"). Hamilton is temporarily suspended by Washington ("Meet Me Inside") over the duel, where Eliza reveals that she is pregnant with her first child and asks Hamilton to simply slow down to take in what's happened in their lives ("That Would be Enough"). After Lafayette convinces France to get involved on the colonists' side ("Guns and Ships"), he urges Washington to call Hamilton back to help plan the final Siege of Yorktown. Washington agrees, but explains to Hamilton, who is convinced he should die a martyr and a hero in war, that he should be careful with his actions, because whatever he does will be known for ages to come ("History Has its Eyes on You"). Hamilton agrees to join, and reflects that he now has something to live for (a wife and a child on the way), and will give up on his efforts to die in war. At the Siege of Yorktown, Hamilton meets up with Lafayette to take down the British, revealing that Mulligan was recruited as a spy, helping them figure out what to do to trap the British and win the war ("Yorktown (The World Turned Upside Down)").
Soon after the victory at Yorktown, Hamilton's son, Philip is born, while Burr has a daughter, Theodosia ("Dear Theodosia"). Hamilton receives word that his friend Laurens has been killed in a seemingly pointless battle and throws himself into his work ("Tomorrow There'll Be More of Us"). He co-authors The Federalist Papers and is selected as Secretary of the Treasury by newly-elected President Washington. Angelica moves to London with her new husband ("Non-Stop").
At the beginning of this act, Thomas Jefferson returns to America from being the French Ambassador ("What'd I Miss"). In 1789, Jefferson and Hamilton debate the merits of Hamilton's financial plans during a Cabinet meeting. Washington pulls Hamilton aside, and tells him to figure out a compromise to win over Congress ("Cabinet Battle #1").
Eliza and her family, along with Angelica, back from London, travel upstate during the summer, while Hamilton stays home to work on the compromise ("Take a Break"). Hamilton begins an affair with Maria Reynolds, making him vulnerable to her husband's blackmail ("Say No To This"). Hamilton, Jefferson and James Madison create the Compromise of 1790 over a private dinner, exchanging Hamilton's financial plan for placing the country's permanent capital on the Potomac River. Burr is envious of Hamilton's sway in the government and wishes he had similar power ("The Room Where It Happens").
In another Cabinet meeting, Jefferson and Hamilton argue over whether the United States should assist France in its conflict with Britain. This decision is not subject to congressional approval and Washington ultimately agrees with Hamilton's argument for remaining neutral ("Cabinet Battle #2"). In the wake of this, Jefferson, Madison, and Burr decide to join together to find a way to discredit Hamilton from being in Washington's favor ("Washington on your Side"). Washington decides to retire from the presidency and Hamilton assists in writing a farewell address ("One Last Time").
John Adams becomes the second President and fires Hamilton, who publishes an inflammatory critique of the new president as a response ("The Adams Administration"). In the face of accusations of speculation of government funds by Jefferson, Madison, and Burr and out of fear of his affair being used against him in his political career ("We Know"), Hamilton chooses to publicize his affair with Reynolds ("Hurricane") in the Reynolds Pamphlet ("The Reynolds Pamphlet"), damaging his relationship with Eliza ("Burn"). Their son Philip dies at age 19 in a duel with George Eacker due to critical speech given by Eacker about Alexander ("Blow Us All Away"/"Stay Alive (Reprise)"), causing a reconciliation between Alexander and Eliza ("It's Quiet Uptown").
Hamilton's endorsement of Jefferson in the presidential election of 1800 ("The Election of 1800") results in further animosity between Hamilton and Burr. Burr challenges Hamilton to a duel via an exchange of letters ("Your Obedient Servant"). During the duel, both Burr and Hamilton fire at each other after ten paces, with Hamilton intentionally missing his shot. Hamilton dies as a result, with his wife and Angelica at his side. Burr laments that even though he survived, he is cursed to be the villain who killed Alexander Hamilton ("The World Was Wide Enough"). The close of the musical is a reflection on historical memory and "Who Lives, Who Dies, Who Tells Your Story".
Roles and principal castsEdit
Original production castsEdit
|Character||Vassar Workshop||Off-Broadway||Broadway||Chicago||First U.S. Tour||West End||Second U.S. Tour||Puerto Rico / Third U.S. Tour|
|Alexander Hamilton||Lin-Manuel Miranda||Miguel Cervantes||Michael Luwoye||Jamael Westman||Joseph Morales||Lin-Manuel Miranda / Julius Thomas III [a]|
|Eliza Hamilton||Ana Nogueira||Phillipa Soo||Arianna Afsar||Solea Pfeiffer||Rachelle Ann Go||Shoba Narayan||Julia K. Harriman|
|Aaron Burr||Utkarsh Ambudkar||Leslie Odom Jr.||Joshua Henry||Giles Terera||Nik Walker||Donald Webber, Jr.|
|Angelica Schuyler||Anika Noni Rose||Renée Elise Goldsberry||Karen Olivo||Emmy Raver-Lampman||Rachel John||Ta'Rea Campbell||Sabrina Sloan|
|George Washington||Christopher Jackson||Jonathan Kirkland||Isaiah Johnson||Obioma Ugoala||Marcus Choi||Isaiah Johnson|
|Marquis de Lafayette / Thomas Jefferson||Daveed Diggs||Chris De'Sean Lee||Jordan Donica||Jason Pennycooke||Kyle Scatliffe||Simon Longnight|
|Hercules Mulligan / James Madison||Joshua Henry||Okieriete Onaodowan||Wallace Smith||Mathenee Treco||Tarinn Callender||Fergie L. Philippe||Brandon Armstrong|
|John Laurens / Philip Hamilton||Javier Muñoz||Anthony Ramos||José Ramos||Rubén J. Carbajal||Cleve September||Elijah Malcomb||Rubén J. Carbajal|
|Peggy Schuyler / Maria Reynolds||Presilah Nunez||Jasmine Cephas Jones||Samantha Marie Ware||Amber Iman||Christine Allado||Danielle Sostre||Darilyn Castillo|
|King George III||Joshua Henry||Brian d'Arcy James||Jonathan Groff||Alexander Gemignani||Rory O'Malley||Michael Jibson||Jon Patrick Walker||Rick Negron|
Off-Broadway cast replacementsEdit
Broadway cast replacementsEdit
- Alexander Hamilton – Javier Muñoz (July 11, 2016 – January 14, 2018); Michael Luwoye (January 16, 2018 – present)
- Eliza Hamilton – Lexi Lawson (July 12, 2016 – October 28, 2018); Denée Benton (October 30, 2018 – present)
- Aaron Burr – Brandon Victor Dixon (August 23, 2016 – August 13, 2017); Daniel Breaker (August 29, 2017 – present)
- Angelica Schuyler – Mandy Gonzalez (September 6, 2016 – present)
- Marquis de Lafayette / Thomas Jefferson – Seth Stewart (August 15, 2016 – April 16, 2017); James Monroe Iglehart (April 18, 2017 – present)
- King George III – Rory O'Malley (April 11, 2016 – January 15, 2017); Taran Killam (January 17, 2017 – April 16, 2017); Brian d'Arcy James (April 18, 2017 – July 16, 2017); Euan Morton (July 28, 2017 – present)
- John Laurens / Philip Hamilton – Jordan Fisher (November 22, 2016 – March 5, 2017)
Other notable production cast replacementsEdit
- Miranda is only doing Puerto Rico exclusively for 3 weeks from January 11th-27th, Thomas III continues on to San Francisco with the rest of the tour
- Credited to full company on the original Broadway cast recording.
- "Tomorrow There'll Be More of Us", a second reprise to "The Story of Tonight", does not appear on the original Broadway cast recording. Miranda explained that it was "more of a scene than a song, the only scene in the [sung-through] show", and he wanted to reserve the impact of "at least one revelation" that could be experienced more fully onstage.
- Previously titled "One Last Ride" in the Off-Broadway production.
Original Broadway cast album (2015)Edit
The original Broadway cast recording for Hamilton was made available to listeners by NPR on September 21, 2015. It was released by Atlantic Records digitally on September 25, 2015, and physical copies were released on October 16, 2015. The cast album has also been released on vinyl. The album debuted at number 12 on the Billboard 200 albums chart, the highest entrance for a cast recording since 1963. It went on to reach number 3 on the Billboard 200 and number 1 on the Billboard Rap albums chart. The original cast recording has won a Grammy Award for Best Musical Theater Album.
The Hamilton Mixtape (2016)Edit
The Hamilton Instrumentals (2017) and HamiltunesEdit
The Hamilton Instrumentals, an instrumental edition of the original Broadway cast recording without the cast's vocals, was released on June 30, 2017.
In conjunction with the release, the producers of Hamilton announced that they were officially authorizing free sing-along programs for fans, and offering organizers the Hamiltunes name and logo to promote the events. A series of unauthorized Hamilton sing-alongs under that name, starting with Hamiltunes L.A. in early 2016, had already taken place in Los Angeles, San Francisco, and Washington D.C., with spinoff events nationwide.
Miranda announced a new series of 13 Hamilton-related recordings called Hamildrops, releasing once a month from December 2017 to December 2018. The first release, on December 15, 2017, was "Ben Franklin's Song" by The Decemberists, containing lyrics Miranda wrote during development of Hamilton for an unused song that was never set to music. Miranda had long imagined Benjamin Franklin singing in a "Decemberist-y way", and ultimately sent the lyrics to Colin Meloy, who set them to music. The second release, on January 25, 2018, was "Wrote My Way Out (Remix)", a remixed version of a song on The Hamilton Mixtape, featuring Royce Da 5'9", Joyner Lucas, Black Thought and Aloe Blacc.
The third release, on March 2, 2018, was "The Hamilton Polka" by "Weird Al" Yankovic, a polka medley of some of the songs from the musical. A fan of Yankovic since childhood, Miranda became friends with him after they tried to develop a musical together. About the origin of the song, Yankovic said, "Lin pitched it to me as a polka medley way more hesitantly than [he] should have. He was like, 'Would you want to do a polka medley?' I was like, 'Of course I do!'" Since Yankovic was busy working on his new tour, he wouldn't be able to release the song in February, so he suggested calling March 2 "February 30th". Miranda said it was "the most perfect 'Weird Al' creative problem solving possible".
The fourth release, on March 19, 2018, was "Found/Tonight" by Lin-Manuel Miranda and Ben Platt. A mash-up of the songs "You Will Be Found" from the stage musical Dear Evan Hansen and "The Story of Tonight", part of the proceeds were destinated to the initiative March for Our Lives, created after the Stoneman Douglas High School shooting. Miranda said the song was his way "of helping to raise funds and awareness for [the efforts of the students in Parkland, Florida], and to say Thank You, and that we are with you so let's keep fighting, together". Platt added that he hoped the song could "play some small part in bringing about real change [in gun control laws]".
The fifth release, on April 30, 2018, was "First Burn", featuring five actress who played Eliza Hamilton at productions of the musical: Arianna Afsar (original Chicago company), Julia Harriman (first national tour), Shoba Narayan (original second national tour company), Rachelle Ann Go (original West End company) and Lexi Lawson (Broadway). The song is the first draft written by Miranda of "Burn". Miranda described Eliza's portrayal in the first version of the song as "angrier" and "entirely reactive", while in the final version "she has agency", and explained that "it works as a song but not as a scene".
The sixth release, on May 31, 2018, was a cover of "Helpless" by The Regrettes. Miranda credited Mike Elizondo, a producer who worked with the band, as having suggested the idea, which he immediately accepted. The seventh release, on June 18, 2018, was "Boom Goes the Cannon..." by Mobb Deep. The song, which incorporates a sample of the musical's "Right Hand Man", was one of the last recorded by Havoc and Prodigy, before Prodigy's passing on June 2017. Havoc expressed that the release of the record was "a great way to pay homage to [Prodigy] and continue not only Mobb's legacy, but his as well". Miranda dedicated it to Queensbridge.
The seventh release entitled "A Forgotten Spot (Olvidado)" features Puerto Rican singers Zion & Lennox, De La Ghetto, Ivy Queen, PJ Sin Suela and Lucecita Benítez. It was released on September 20, 2018 by Atlantic Records and Warner Music Group. The song was written by Miranda, along with the rest of the collaborators. The song was released on the one-year anniversary of Hurricane Maria which directly struck Puerto Rico in 2017.
The eighth release, a rendition of "Theodosia Reprise" by Sara Bareilles, debuted on the eve of Halloween 2018. It featured show orchestrator Alex Lacamoire on piano and Questlove of The Roots on drums. The song, sharing a moment between Aaron Burr and his daughter, was to appear in Act 2 but was cut from the final production.
On November 20, 2018, "Cheering For Me Now" an original song with music by John Kander and lyrics by Miranda based on the 1788 Federal Procession in New York City. The release features Miranda performing as Alexander Hamilton and an arrangement by Alex Lacamoire.
|Lin-Manuel Miranda Talks 'Hamilton': Once A 'Ridiculous' Pitch, Now A Revolution, interview with Scott Simon, NPR, April 9, 2016|
While on vacation from performing in his hit Broadway show In the Heights, Lin-Manuel Miranda read a copy of Alexander Hamilton by Ron Chernow, a biography of Alexander Hamilton. After finishing the first few chapters, Miranda began to envision the life of Hamilton as a musical, and researched whether a stage musical of Hamilton's life had been created. All he found was that a play of Hamilton's story had been done on Broadway in 1917, starring George Arliss as Alexander Hamilton. (Arliss reprised the role in a 1931 feature film adaptation, Alexander Hamilton, but to date there is no record of Miranda having seen it.)
Miranda therefore began a project entitled The Hamilton Mixtape. On May 12, 2009, Miranda was invited to perform music from In the Heights at the White House Evening of Poetry, Music and the Spoken Word. Instead, he performed the first song from The Hamilton Mixtape, an early version of what would later become "Alexander Hamilton", Hamilton's opening number. He spent a year after that working on "My Shot", another early number from the show.
Miranda performed in a workshop production of the show, then titled The Hamilton Mixtape, at the Vassar Reading Festival on July 27, 2013. The workshop production was directed by Thomas Kail and musically directed by Alex Lacamoire. The workshop consisted of the entirety of the first act of the show and three songs from the second act. The workshop was accompanied by Lacamoire on the piano.
Of the original workshop cast, only three principal cast members played in the Off-Broadway production: Miranda, Daveed Diggs, and Christopher Jackson. Most of the original Off-Broadway cast moved to Broadway, except Brian d'Arcy James, who was replaced by Jonathan Groff as King George III.
|Interview with Ron Chernow (conducted by Harold Holzer) on the adaptation of his book into the play, February 25, 2016, C-SPAN|
Directed by Thomas Kail and choreographed by Andy Blankenbuehler, the musical received its world premiere Off-Broadway at The Public Theater, under the supervision of the Public's Artistic Director Oskar Eustis, with previews starting on January 20, 2015 and officially opening on February 17. The production was extended twice, first to April 5 and then to May 3. Chernow served as historical consultant to the production. The show opened to universal acclaim according to review aggregator Did He Like It.
Hamilton premiered on Broadway at the Richard Rodgers Theatre (also home to Miranda's 2008 Broadway debut In the Heights) on July 13, 2015 in previews, and opened on August 6, 2015. The production is produced by Jeffrey Seller and features scenic design by David Korins, costumes by Paul Tazewell, lighting by Howell Binkley and sound by Nevin Steinberg, who all reprised their roles from the off-Broadway production.
Hamilton opened at the CIBC Theatre in Chicago on September 27, 2016. Near the beginning of its run, lead producer Jeffrey Seller said the show may be in residence for two years or more. On its opening, attended by author Miranda, the Chicago production received strongly positive reviews. Miranda praised the Chicago casts' performance during a later television interview.
U.S. touring productions (2017–present)Edit
Plans for a national tour of Hamilton emerged near the end of January 2016. The tour was initially announced with over 20 stops, scheduled from 2017 through at least 2020. Tickets to the tour's run in San Francisco—its debut city—sold out within 24 hours of release; the number of people who entered the online waiting room to purchase tickets surpassed 110,000. The first national touring production began preview performances at San Francisco's SHN Orpheum Theatre on March 10, 2017 and officially opened on March 23. The production ran in San Francisco until August 5, when it transferred to Los Angeles' Hollywood Pantages Theatre for a run from August 11 to December 30, 2017.
Just days after the first U.S. tour began performances in San Francisco, news emerged that a second U.S. tour of Hamilton would begin in Seattle for a six-week limited engagement before touring North America concurrently with the first tour. To distinguish the first and second touring productions, the production team has labeled them, respectively, the "Angelica tour" and the "Philip tour".
The Angelica tour alone requires 14 truckloads of cargo and a core group of over 60 traveling cast, crew, and musicians. The production team insisted that each tour must be able to duplicate the original Broadway show's choreography, which literally revolves around two concentric turntables on the stage. This led to the construction of four portable sets, two for each tour, so that one set can be assembled well in advance at the next stop while the tour is still playing at the last stop.
It was announced on November 12, 2018 that following the three-week limited engagement in Puerto Rico, in which Lin-Manuel Miranda will reprise his role as Alexander Hamilton, the company would continue on as the third national tour of the show, officially dubbed the "And Peggy tour". Julius Thomas III will take over the role of Alexander Hamilton for the tour after the Puerto Rico run.
West End (2017–present)Edit
Cameron Mackintosh produced a London production which re-opened the Victoria Palace Theatre on December 21, 2017, following previews from December 6. Initial principal casting was announced on January 26, 2017. The London production received strongly positive reviews.
Puerto Rico (2019)Edit
It was announced on November 8, 2017 that Hamilton would play the University of Puerto Rico's Teatro UPR in San Juan, beginning in January 2019, with Lin-Manuel Miranda reprising his performance as Alexander Hamilton. The Teatro UPR stage had suffered damage following Hurricane Maria in September and October 2017, and underwent restorations and repairs prior to Hamilton's 2019 bow. On December 21, 2018, less than a month away from opening night and after months of restoration completed, the three-week run, originally slated for January 8–27, 2019, was relocated to the Luis A. Ferré Performing Arts Center, starting the run on January 11 after negotiations between the show's production and the local faculty and staff union. This resulted from weeks of warnings from the union of possible protests outside the theater over budget cuts that the University of Puerto Rico administration was considering that would affect university staff and employees.
Miranda's performance in the Luis A. Ferré Performing Arts Center marks his return to the venue after nine years since he reprised the role of Usnavi exclusively for the San Juan stop of the North American touring production of In the Heights.
In a review, Chris Jones said Miranda's performance demonstrated "deeper on-stage emotions", as well as improved vocal and dance technique than on Broadway. He praised Miranda's "signature warmth" as well as Donald Webber Jr., calling Webber's Arron Burr performance, "exceptional". The sold-out three-week run raised approximately $15 million for Miranda's Flamboyán Arts Fund, which benefits the local arts in Puerto Rico; the first beneficiary having been the restoration of the Teatro UPR, where the three-week run would've originally taken place.
Box office and businessEdit
Opening and box office recordsEdit
Hamilton's off-Broadway engagement at The Public Theater was sold out, and when the musical opened on Broadway, it had a multimillion-dollar advance in ticket sales, reportedly taking in $30 million before its official opening.
By September 2015, the show was sold out for most of its Broadway engagement. It was the second-highest-grossing show on Broadway for the Labor Day week ending September 6, 2015 (behind only The Lion King).
Hamilton set a Broadway box office record for the most money grossed in a single week in New York City in late November 2016, when it grossed $3.3 million for an eight performance week, becoming the first show to break $3 million in eight performances.
Ticket lottery and Ham4HamEdit
Hamilton, like other Broadway musicals, offers a ticket lottery before every show. Initially, twenty-one front row seats (and occasional standing room tickets) were offered in each lottery. Hamilton creator Lin-Manuel Miranda began preparing and hosting outdoor mini-performances shortly before each daily drawing, allowing lottery participants to experience a part of the show even when they did not win tickets. These were dubbed the "Ham4Ham" shows, because lottery winners were given the opportunity to purchase two tickets at the reduced price of one Hamilton ($10 bill) each.
The online theatrical journal HowlRound characterized Ham4Ham as an expression of Miranda's cultural background:
Ham4Ham follows a long tradition of Latina/o (or the ancestors of present-day Latina/os) theatremaking that dates back to when the events in Hamilton were happening.... The philosophy behind this is simple. If the people won't come to the theatre, then take the theatre to the people. While El Teatro Campesino's 'taking it to the streets' originated from a place of social protest, Ham4Ham does so to create accessibility, tap into social media, and ultimately generate a free, self-functioning marketing campaign. In this way, Ham4Ham falls into a lineage of accessibility as a Latina/o theatremaking aesthetic.
As a result of the Ham4Ham shows, Hamilton's lottery process drew unusually large crowds of people that created a significant congestion problem for West 46th Street. To avoid increasingly dangerous crowding and traffic conditions, an online ticket lottery began operating in early January 2016. On the first day of the online lottery, more than 50,000 people entered, resulting in the website crashing.
Following Miranda's departure from the show on July 9, 2016, Rory O'Malley, then playing King George III, took over as the host of Ham4Ham. The Ham4Ham show officially ended on August 31, 2016, after over a year of performances. The online lottery continued, with an official mobile app released in August 2017 that expanded the lottery by offering tickets for touring productions of Hamilton as well as the Broadway show.
Marilyn Stasio, in her review of the Off-Broadway production for Variety, wrote, "The music is exhilarating, but the lyrics are the big surprise. The sense as well as the sound of the sung dialogue has been purposely suited to each character. George Washington, a stately figure in Jackson's dignified performance, sings in polished prose... But in the end, Miranda's impassioned narrative of one man's story becomes the collective narrative of a nation, a nation built by immigrants who occasionally need to be reminded where they came from."
In his review of the Off-Broadway production, Jesse Green in New York wrote, "The conflict between independence and interdependence is not just the show's subject but also its method: It brings the complexity of forming a union from disparate constituencies right to your ears.... Few are the theatergoers who will be familiar with all of Miranda's touchstones. I caught the verbal references to Rodgers and Hammerstein, Gilbert and Sullivan, Sondheim, West Side Story, and 1776, but other people had to point out to me the frequent hat-tips to hip-hop... Whether it's a watershed, a breakthrough, and a game changer, as some have been saying, is another matter. Miranda is too savvy (and loves his antecedents too much) to try to reinvent all the rules at once.... Those duels, by the way—there are three of them—are superbly handled, the highlights of a riveting if at times overbusy staging by the director Thomas Kail and the choreographer Andy Blankenbuehler."
Although giving a positive review, Elisabeth Vincentelli, of the New York Post (which was founded by Hamilton himself), wrote that Hamilton and Burr's love/hate relationship "fails to drive the show—partly because Miranda lacks the charisma and intensity of the man he portrays", and that "too many of the numbers are exposition-heavy lessons, as if this were 'Schoolhouse Rap!' The show is burdened with eye-glazingly dull stretches, especially those involving George Washington."
Reviewing the Broadway production in The New York Times, Ben Brantley wrote, "I am loath to tell people to mortgage their houses and lease their children to acquire tickets to a hit Broadway show. But Hamilton, directed by Thomas Kail and starring Mr. Miranda, might just about be worth it.... Washington, Jefferson, Madison—they're all here, making war and writing constitutions and debating points of economic structure. So are Aaron Burr and the Marquis de Lafayette. They wear the clothes (by Paul Tazewell) you might expect them to wear in a traditional costume drama, and the big stage they inhabit has been done up (by David Korins) to suggest a period-appropriate tavern, where incendiary youth might gather to drink, brawl and plot revolution."
In Time Out New York, David Cote wrote, "I love Hamilton. I love it like I love New York, or Broadway when it gets it right. And this is so right... A sublime conjunction of radio-ready hip-hop (as well as R&B, Britpop and trad showstoppers), under-dramatized American history and Miranda's uniquely personal focus as a first-generation Puerto Rican and inexhaustible wordsmith, Hamilton hits multilevel culture buttons, hard... The work's human drama and novelistic density remain astonishing." Cote chose Hamilton as a Critics' Pick, and gave the production five out of five stars.
In an issue of Journal of the Early Republic, Andrew Schocket wrote that while Hamilton makes bold choices to stray away from what he calls the "American Revolution Rebooted" genre, it remains "forged in the mold of this genre, and despite its casting and hip-hop delivery, is more representative of it than we might think". In the same issue, Marvin McAllister noted that the production's heavy hip-hop influence works so well because "Miranda elevates the form through this marriage with musical theater storytelling, and in the process, ennobles the culture and the creators."
A review in The Economist summed up the response to Hamilton as "near-universal critical acclaim". Barack Obama joked that admiration for the musical is "the only thing Dick Cheney and I agree on".
Honors and awardsEdit
Original Off-Broadway productionEdit
|2015||Lucille Lortel Awards||Outstanding Musical||Won|
|Outstanding Director||Thomas Kail||Won|
|Outstanding Choreographer||Andy Blankenbuehler||Won|
|Outstanding Lead Actor in a Musical||Lin-Manuel Miranda||Won|
|Leslie Odom, Jr.||Nominated|
|Outstanding Lead Actress in a Musical||Phillipa Soo||Won|
|Outstanding Featured Actor in a Musical||Daveed Diggs||Won|
|Brian d'Arcy James||Nominated|
|Outstanding Featured Actress in a Musical||Renée Elise Goldsberry||Won|
|Outstanding Costume Design||Paul Tazewell||Won|
|Outstanding Lighting Design||Howell Binkley||Won|
|Outstanding Sound Design||Nevin Steinberg||Won|
|Outer Critics Circle Awards||Outstanding New Off-Broadway Musical||Won|
|Outstanding Book of a Musical||Lin-Manuel Miranda||Won|
|Outstanding New Score||Won|
|Outstanding Director of a Musical||Thomas Kail||Nominated|
|Outstanding Choreographer||Andy Blankenbuehler||Nominated|
|Drama League Awards||Outstanding Production of a Broadway or Off-Broadway Musical||Nominated|
|Distinguished Performance||Daveed Diggs||Nominated|
|Drama Desk Awards||Outstanding Musical||Won|
|Outstanding Actor in a Musical||Lin-Manuel Miranda||Nominated|
|Outstanding Featured Actor in a Musical||Leslie Odom, Jr.||Nominated|
|Outstanding Featured Actress in a Musical||Renée Elise Goldsberry||Won|
|Outstanding Director of a Musical||Thomas Kail||Won|
|Outstanding Music||Lin-Manuel Miranda||Won|
|Outstanding Book of a Musical||Won|
|Outstanding Orchestrations||Alex Lacamoire||Nominated|
|Outstanding Set Design||David Korins||Nominated|
|Outstanding Costume Design||Paul Tazewell||Nominated|
|Outstanding Lighting Design||Howell Binkley||Nominated|
|Outstanding Sound Design in a Musical||Nevin Steinberg||Won|
|Special Award ‡||Andy Blankenbuehler||Won|
|New York Drama Critics' Circle Awards||Best Musical||Won|
|Off Broadway Alliance Awards||Best New Musical||Won|
|Theatre World Awards||Outstanding Debut Performance||Daveed Diggs||Won|
|Clarence Derwent Awards||Most Promising Female Performer||Phillipa Soo||Won|
|Obie Awards||Best New American Theatre Work||Lin-Manuel Miranda, Thomas Kail, Andy Blankenbuehler, Alex Lacamoire||Won|
|Edgerton Foundation New American Play Awards||Won|
‡ Blankenbuehler received a Special Drama Desk Award for "his inspired and heart-stopping choreography in Hamilton, which is indispensible [sic] to the musical's storytelling. His body of work is versatile, yet a dynamic and fluid style is consistently evident. When it's time to 'take his shot,' Blankenbuehler hits the bull's-eye."
Original Broadway productionEdit
The musical currently holds the record for most Tony Award nominations with 16 nominations. However, at only 11 wins, it failed to beat the record for most wins, which is held by The Producers with 12 wins. Hamilton would have needed to win in every category it was nominated in in order to beat the record
Original West End productionEdit
|2018||Critics' Circle Theatre Award||The Peter Hepple Award for Best Musical||Won|
|Laurence Olivier Awards||Best New Musical||Won|
|Outstanding Achievement in Music||Alex Lacamoire and Lin-Manuel Miranda||Won|
|Best Actor in a Musical||Giles Terera||Won|
|Best Actor in a Supporting Role in a Musical||Michael Jibson||Won|
|Best Actress in a Supporting Role in a Musical||Rachel John||Nominated|
|Best Costume Design||Paul Tazewell||Nominated|
|Best Lighting Design||Howell Binkley||Won|
|Best Sound Design||Nevin Steinberg||Won|
|Best Director||Thomas Kail||Nominated|
|Best Theatre Choreographer||Andy Blankenbuehler||Won|
|Presentation to Lin-Manuel Miranda of the Special Achievement Award from the board of the George Washington Book Prize, December 14, 2015, C-SPAN|
|Billboard||25 Best Albums of 2015||2|
|Rolling Stone||50 Best Albums of 2015||8|
According to an article in The New Yorker, the show is "an achievement of historical and cultural reimagining". The costumes and set reflect the period, with "velvet frock coats and knee britches. The set ...is a wooden scaffold against exposed brick; the warm lighting suggests candlelight". The musical is mostly sung and rapped all the way through, with little dialogue isolated outside of the musical score.
Miranda said that the portrayal of Hamilton, Thomas Jefferson, George Washington, and other white historical figures by black and Hispanic actors should not require any substantial suspension of disbelief by audience members. "Our cast looks like America looks now, and that's certainly intentional", he said. "It's a way of pulling you into the story and allowing you to leave whatever cultural baggage you have about the founding fathers at the door." He noted "We're telling the story of old, dead white men but we're using actors of color, and that makes the story more immediate and more accessible to a contemporary audience."
The pro-immigration message of Hamilton is at the forefront, as the show revolves around the life of one of the Founding Fathers of the United States, Alexander Hamilton, and how he made his mark in American politics as an immigrant. Instead of being characterized as a white person, Alexander Hamilton's immigrant status would be referenced throughout the whole show, alongside with the virtue and prowess of Hamilton ("by working a lot harder, by being a lot smarter, by being a self-starter", described in the show's opening), in order to foster a positive image of immigrants. Alongside this, the casting of Black, Latino, and Asian American leads allowed audiences to literally view America as a nation of immigrants, with the intention of showing how irrelevant the Founding Fathers' whiteness is to their claim on the country. "Hamilton is a story about America, and the most beautiful thing about it is... it's told by such a diverse cast with a such diverse styles of music", according to Renee Elise Goldsberry, who played Angelica Schuyler. "We have the opportunity to reclaim a history that some of us don't necessarily think is our own." Miranda has stated that he is "totally open" to women playing the Founding Fathers. Casting for the British production is expected to feature predominantly black British artists.
Chronology and eventsEdit
Although Hamilton was based on historical events and people, Miranda did use some dramatic license in retelling the story. For example, while Angelica did have a strong relationship with Hamilton, it was exaggerated in the show. During "Satisfied", Angelica explains why Hamilton is not suitable for her despite wanting him. In particular, she states, "I'm a girl in a world in which my only job is to marry rich. My father has no sons so I'm the one who has to social climb for one." In actuality, Angelica had less pressure on her to do this. Philip Schuyler actually had fifteen children, including two sons who survived into adulthood (one of whom was New York State Assemblyman Philip Jeremiah Schuyler), and Angelica had eloped with John Barker Church three years before she met Hamilton at her sister's wedding, when she was already mother of two of her eight children with Church. Miranda stated that he chose to do this because it is stronger dramatically if Angelica is available but cannot marry him.
In addition, in Act I, Aaron Burr's role in Hamilton's life is overstated, and much of the early interactions between the two men in the show are fictionalized. For example, while Burr was present at the Battle of Monmouth, Burr did not serve as Charles Lee's second in his duel with John Laurens as seen in "Ten Duel Commandments"; Lee's second was Evan Edwards. Hamilton also never approached Burr to help write The Federalist Papers as portrayed in "Non-Stop".
During Act I, the character of Aaron Burr says that "...Martha Washington named her feral tomcat after him! [Hamilton]", to which Alexander Hamilton replies: "That's true!" In fact, it is false. The idea of Hamilton as a serial adulterer has been one of the biggest mischaracterizations of the real Alexander Hamilton for centuries, with celebrated authors repeating the story over and over again, notwithstanding that the sexual connotation of tomcat as a womanizer did not appear in dictionaries until the first half of the 20th century. The "tomcat" story has been previously discredited by author Stephen Knott, and refuted by historian and author Michael E. Newton at the "Alexander Hamilton Discoveries and Findings" talk held by the Alexander Hamilton Awareness Society at Liberty Hall (Kean University) as part of the 2016 CelebrateHAMILTON events.
In Act II, there are multiple inaccuracies throughout Hamilton's decline, probably due to time constraints and narrative arc. While it is true that John Adams and Hamilton did not particularly get along, John Adams did not fire Hamilton as told in the show. Hamilton tendered his resignation from his position as Secretary of the Treasury on December 1, 1794, two years before Adams became president. However, Hamilton remained close friends with Washington and highly influential in the political sphere. Additionally, Jefferson, Madison and Burr did not approach Hamilton about his affair; it was actually James Monroe, Frederick Muhlenberg and Abraham Venable in December 1792. Monroe was a close friend of Jefferson's and shared the information of Hamilton's affair with him. In the Summer of 1797, journalist James T. Callender broke the story of Hamilton's infidelity. Hamilton blamed Monroe, and the altercation nearly ended in a duel. With nothing left to do, Hamilton then published The Reynolds Pamphlet.
In "Take a Break", Philip Hamilton, at age 9, claims, "I have a sister, but I want a little brother". Philip already had two younger brothers at the time: Alexander Hamilton Jr. and James Alexander Hamilton. On the same song, Angelica sends a letter to Hamilton, revealing she would come back to America from Europe for the summer. She didn't send such a letter, and remained in her home.
In "Blow Us All Away", George Eacker and Philip engage in a duel, before the events of the 1800 presidential election. The duel actually occurred in 1801, with Philip Hamilton dying on November 24. In the song, Eacker fires on Philip at the count of seven, while what happened in real-life was quite the opposite; both men refused to fire for over a minute before Eacker shot Philip in the hips.
Lastly, it was not the presidential election of 1800 that led to Burr and Hamilton's duel. Burr did become Jefferson's vice-president, but when Jefferson decided to not run with Burr for reelection in 1804, Burr opted to run for Governor of New York instead. Burr lost to Morgan Lewis in a landslide. Afterwards, a letter was published in The Albany Register from Charles D. Cooper to Philip Schuyler, claiming that Hamilton called Burr "a dangerous man, and one who ought not be trusted with the reins of government", and that he knew of "a still more despicable opinion which General Hamilton has expressed of Mr. Burr". This led to the letters between Burr and Hamilton as seen in the show in "Your Obedient Servant".
Critical analysis and scholarshipEdit
The show has been critiqued for a simplistic depiction of Hamilton and vilification of Jefferson. Joanne B. Freeman, a history professor at Yale, contrasted the show's Hamilton to the "real Hamilton [who] was a mass of contradictions: an immigrant who sometimes distrusted immigrants, a revolutionary who placed a supreme value on law and order, a man who distrusted the rumblings of the masses yet preached his politics to them more frequently and passionately than many of his more democracy-friendly fellows".
Australian historian Shane White found the framing of the show's story "troubling", stating that he and many historian colleagues "would like to imagine that Hamilton is a last convulsion of the founding father mythology". According to White, Miranda's depiction of the founding of the United States "infuses new life into an older view of American history" that centered on the Founding Fathers, instead of joining the many historians who were "attempting to get away from the Great Men story" by incorporating "ordinary people, African-Americans, Native Americans and women" into a "more inclusive and nuanced" historical narrative in which Hamilton has a "cameo rather than leading role".
Rutgers University professor Lyra Monteiro criticized the show's multi-ethnic casting as obscuring a complete lack of identifiable enslaved or free persons of color as characters in the show. Monteiro identified other commentators, such as Ishmael Reed, who criticized the show for making Hamilton and other historical personages appear more progressive on racial injustice than they really were. According to Reed, "[Hamilton's] reputation has been shored up as an abolitionist and someone who was opposed to slavery," which Reed stated was untrue.
In The Baffler, policy analyst Matt Stoller criticized the musical's portrayal of Hamilton as an idealist committed to democratic principles, in contrast to what he characterized as the historical record of Hamilton's reactionary, anti-democratic politics and legacy. For example, Stoller cited Hamilton as a leader involved in the Newburgh conspiracy (a military coup plot against the Continental Congress in 1783); his development of a national financial system which, in Stoller's view, empowered the plutocratic elite; and his use of military force, indefinite detention, and mass arrests against dissenters during the Whiskey Rebellion of 1791. In 2007, history writer William Hogeland criticized Chernow's biography of Hamilton on similar grounds in the Boston Review.
In 2018, Historians on Hamilton: How a Blockbuster Musical Is Restaging America's Past was published. Fifteen historians of early America authored essays on ways the musical both engages with, and sometimes misinterprets history.
Use in educationEdit
KQED News wrote of a "growing number of intrepid U.S. history teachers...who are harnessing the Hamilton phenomenon to inspire their students". The Cabinet rap battles provide a way to engage students with topics that have traditionally been considered uninteresting. An elective course for 11th and 12th graders on the musical Hamilton was held at the Ethical Culture Fieldston School in New York. KQED News added that "Hamilton is especially galvanizing for the student who believes that stories about 18th century America are distant and irrelevant" as it shows the Founding Fathers were real humans with real feeling and real flaws, rather than "bloodless, two-dimensional cutouts who devoted their lives to abstract principles". A high school teacher from the Bronx noted his students were "singing these songs the way they might sing the latest release from Drake or Adele". One teacher focused on Hamilton's ability to write his way out of trouble and toward a higher plane of existence: "skilled writing is the clearest sign of scholarship—and the best way to rise up and alter your circumstance."
Hamilton's producers have made a pledge to allow 20,000 New York City public high school students from low-income families to get subsidized tickets to see Hamilton on Broadway by reducing their tickets to $70 for students, and the Rockefeller Foundation provided $1.5 million to further lower ticket prices to $10 per student. The Gilder Lehrman Institute of American History created a study guide to accompany the student-ticket program.
Through a private grant, over the course of the 2017 school year nearly 20,000 Chicago Public School students got to see a special performance of the show, and some got to perform original songs on stage prior to the show.
The website EducationWorld writes that Hamilton is "being praised for its revitalization of interest in civic education". Northwestern University announced plans to offer course work in 2017 inspired by Hamilton, in history, Latino studies, and interdisciplinary studies.
In 2016, Moraine Valley Community College started a Hamilton appreciation movement, Straight Outta Hamilton, hosting panels and events that talk about the musical itself and relate them to current events.
Legacy and impactEdit
In 2015, the U.S. Department of the Treasury announced a redesign to the $10 bill, with plans to replace Hamilton with a then-undecided woman from American history. Because of Hamilton's surging popularity, almost exclusively due to the musical, United States Treasury Secretary Jack Lew reversed the plans to replace Hamilton's portrait, instead deciding to replace Andrew Jackson with Harriet Tubman on the $20 bill.
Hamilton: The RevolutionEdit
|Presentation by Jeremy McCarter on Hamilton: The Revolution, June 11, 2016, C-SPAN|
On April 12, 2016, Miranda and Jeremy McCarter's book, Hamilton: The Revolution, was released, detailing Hamilton's journey from an idea to a successful Broadway musical. It includes an inside look at not only Alexander Hamilton's revolution, but the cultural revolution that permeates the show. It also has footnotes from Miranda and stories from behind the scenes of the show.
After premiering on the New York Film Festival on October 1, 2016, PBS' Great Performances exhibited on October 21, 2016 the documentary Hamilton's America. Directed by Alex Horwitz, it "delves even deeper into the creation of the show, revealing Miranda's process of absorbing and then adapting Hamilton's epic story into groundbreaking musical theater. Further fleshing out the story is newly shot footage of the New York production with its original cast, trips to historic locations such as Mt. Vernon and Valley Forge with Miranda and other cast members, and a surprising range of interviews with prominent personalities, experts, politicians, and musicians." The film featured interviews with American historians and Hamilton authorities.
Hamilton: The ExhibitionEdit
Hamilton: The Exhibition is a planned traveling interactive museum, which will focus on the history concerning the life of Alexander Hamilton and also the musical. It is to debut in Chicago in April 2019.
2016 Vice President–elect Pence controversyEdit
Following a performance on November 18, 2016, with Vice President-elect Mike Pence in the audience, Brandon Victor Dixon addressed Pence from the stage with a statement jointly written by the cast, show creator Lin-Manuel Miranda and producer Jeffrey Seller. Dixon began by quieting the audience, and stated:
Vice President-elect Pence, we welcome you and we truly thank you for joining us here at Hamilton: An American Musical, we really do. We, sir,—we—are the diverse America who are alarmed and anxious that your new administration will not protect us, our planet, our children, our parents, or defend us and uphold our inalienable rights, sir. But we truly hope that this show has inspired you to uphold our American values and to work on behalf of all of us. All of us. Again, we truly thank you truly for seeing this show, this wonderful American story told by a diverse group of men and women of different colors, creeds and orientations.
Pence listened to the expression of concern about President-elect Donald Trump's upcoming administration and later expressed that he was not offended. However, Trump demanded an apology for what he described, on Twitter, as the cast having "harassed" Pence. This led to an online campaign called "#BoycottHamilton", which became widely mocked as the show was already sold-out months in advance. Trump was criticized by The Washington Post, who noted the division between white and non-white America in the 2016 Presidential election and suggested Trump could have offered "assurances that he would be a president for all Americans—that he would respect everybody regardless of race or gender or creed"; instead, as Presidential historian Robert Dallek expressed, Trump's Twitter response was a "striking act of divisiveness by an incoming president struggling to heal the nation after a bitter election", with the Hamilton cast a proxy for those fearful of Trump's policies and rhetoric. Jeffrey Seller, the show's lead producer, said that while Trump has not seen Hamilton or inquired about tickets, he is "welcome to attend".
In April 2016, Jeb! The Musical appeared on the Internet with Jeb Bush in the place of Alexander Hamilton, with political figures like Donald Trump and Chris Christie holding supporting roles. A staged reading, given "just as much preparation as Jeb's campaign", was staged at Northwestern University in June of that year. The parody was crowdsourced, with contributions coming from a range of writers. A number of writers were drawn from Yale University, Boston University, McGill University and the University of Michigan. These writers met in a Facebook group named "Post Aesthetics".
In 2016, Gerard Alessandrini, creator of Forbidden Broadway, wrote the revue Spamilton, which premiered at the Triad Theater in New York and also played at the Royal George Theatre in Chicago. It parodies Hamilton and other Broadway shows and caricatures various Broadway stars.
On October 12, 2016, the American sitcom Modern Family released the episode "Weathering Heights". The episode features a scene where Manny applies for college. To do so he records a parody of "Alexander Hamilton" as part of his application, complete with rewritten lyrics to accompany to his own life. It is revealed that most of the other applications are also Hamilton parodies.
Live stage filmingEdit
On July 24, 2018, it was learned that a filmed version of a 2016 stage performance with the original cast was being bid on by major movie studios.
On February 10, 2017, Miranda revealed that In the Heights playwright Quiara Alegría Hudes wrote a script for a film adaptation, but reassured that, while a film would be made someday, it would not happen for years, as he wanted audiences to watch the stage musical first. He has confirmed that pre-production of the film adaptation will begin early to mid-2020.
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